Finally, and most importantly, Jeb can’t exploit Hillary Clinton’s greatest weakness. As the wife of a former president whose party has held power for the last eight years, Hillary is vulnerable to a candidate who embodies change. But given his last name, Jeb can’t do so. While other Republicans could frame 2016 as a choice between the past and future, Jeb would make it a choice between two pasts, one of which Americans remember far more fondly than the other.
All this would be more obvious if the money chase did not dominate campaign coverage. If Bush’s well-known last name did not provide him with such epic fundraising capacity, in fact, he’d be George Pataki: a dull, moderately conservative former governor of a large state who has been out of politics for a while.
In winning the money primary, Bush is crowding out potential candidates with greater appeal to actual voters. Consider Marco Rubio. He’s a more natural politician. Despite an immigration stance similar to Bush’s, he has a stronger connection to the GOP’s conservative base. And given his youth and lack of connections to previous Republican administrations, he would naturally embody change. Yet as a fellow Floridian, Rubio is the candidate Jeb hurts the most.